The End of Night

Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

A book about much more than just light pollution.
The End of Night - Book Cover

The End of Night from Hachette Book Group.

Paul Bogard’s The End of Night is one of those genre-bending books that nearly defies categorization. While Amazon places it in the Science & Math category, it could be found in an astronomy, nature, ecology, culture or even a travel memoirs section at a bookstore. The book tells the story of the author’s travels around the globe in search of truly dark sky. He’s looking for the kind of sky you remember from that camping trip as a kid, or from that trip to a small island when the sky was so clear you could see the swirl of the Milky Way. The author wonders what our increasingly fading view of the night is doing to us.

The book’s structure is unique in that it follows the 9-to-1 Bortle scale of measuring dark skies. The first chapter of the book is numbered 9 (for the brightest spot on Earth – a bright city such as Las Vegas) and the final chapter is numbered 1 (for a truly dark sky in some remote location far removed from city lights). The book is about much more than just the state of the night sky. While he does interview a few professional and amateur astronomers, this is not really an astronomy book at all.

Along his travels, the author meets a wide range of people who explain how our dependence on light has completely warped our way of doing things. From custodians who work the night shift to doctors who study cancer, Bogard meets all kinds of people and travels down a number of avenues you would not expect. He joins a lamplighter in Paris, a lighting designer from Algeria and a ranger who gives full moon hike tours in Bryce Canyon National Park. The author’s voice is humble and easy to follow, weaving an enjoyable path through the story of light and what it means to experience darkness. The book is both a work of literature and a book of information. At times it invokes the beauty and wonder of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, while at others it will explain which wavelength of light best slows the release of melatonin in our bodies. And if nothing else, it will make you question why those parking lots on the side of the freeway have giant flood lights on all night long.

The only complaint I’d have about this wonderful book is that once you read it, you can’t stop seeing instances of useless and wasteful light all over the place.

The End of Night currently has 4.5 stars on Amazon based on 61 Reviews.

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